Transcript for Hundreds of Newborns May Have Been Exposed to TB
hundreds of parents in California's bay area. They are worried about what their newborn babies might have been exposed to at the hospital. What one nurse may have spread to those hundreds of patients. ABC's Ron Claiborne has the latest. Reporter: The news was stunning. 350 newborn babies at this San Jose, California, hospital, possibly exposed to a nurse who tested positive for tuberculosis. Those infants will now undergo daily treatment with antibiotics for the next six to nine months as a precaution. We have to assume they might be infected and start them on medications, until we can show for sure that they're not infected. Reporter: In addition to the babies, 368 mothers and 338 hospital employees, who came into contact with the nurse between September and November, will be monitored, but not treated unless they test positive for tb. According to officials, the nurse's annual tb checkup in September was negative. But in November, she saw her doctor for an unspecified complaint. And that doctor ordered a chest x-ray, which led to the diagnosis. The nurse has been placed on paid leave of absence. Tb is transmitted through the air, by a person coughing or sneezing. She was not coughing up tuberculosis during the period of time that she was working. Reporter: But the hospital decided to act just the same, and local health officials and the hospital say they have identified everyone who may have been exposed to the disease. And they're working through the weekend to contact them and begin scheduling appointments. And I should add, Cecilia, doctors we spoke to said the antibiotics the newborns are getting are very safe and side effects very rare. Tough for that hospital, but really scary for those brand new parents. Reporter: Really is. Something else scary, if you
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